Media, Darling: Julia McEwen

Julia McEwen has been fixated on all things beautifying since she
was a child sewing clothes for her dolls and giving them radical new hair ‘dos.
She’s a fashion sleuth, facial mask hoarder, self-described dog snob, and
purveyor of shiny fabrics.
She briefly worked as an independent fashion designer and a
freelance wardrobe stylist before joining Canadian Living almost five years ago. Now, as fashion
and beauty director, McEwen is responsible for fashion and beauty photo shoots,
service driven beauty stories and testing the latest products and trends.



Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon?
Many
jobs — both real and fake — were on my wish list growing up, but a job in the
media was never top of mind. Like most little girls, the prospect of being a fairy princess or a mermaid sounded like a good bet. As I grew older (but not
so much wiser) professional gymnast or Olympic downhill ski racer was the goal.
Next came vet, marine biologist, lawyer, interior designer and then finally I
settled on fashion designer. I went to school for fashion design and fashion
business and while attending one of my electives, fashion journalism, I decided
that was my dream occupation.
Where
would you like to be five years from now?
I’d
still like to be working in print media, but on a larger scale with more of a
focus on fashion. I’d like to be writing and producing aspirational photo
shoots and articles. Ideally this future publication would be located in NYC or
London.
Any
advice for people getting started in your industry?
Try,
try and try again. Oh, and do one, two or even three internships. Perseverance
is the name of the game in this industry. You have to love what you’re doing
because it’s a ton of work for not a lot of pay. Also, never be rude to people.
Being an asshole will get you nowhere, fast.
What
are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
Best
interview you’ve ever had?
Surprisingly
enough, one of my best interviews was also one of my first interviews. It was
with reality TV mentor, Tim Gunn. He was very media trained so for a newbie
journalist it was appreciated. He was also astoundingly insightful, charming
and inspiring. What more could I ask for?
Worst?
Carrie Underwood. Seconds before the interview I was instructed not to ask any
questions with a Canadian emphasis. I work for Canadian Living magazine……
Best
advice you’ve ever been given?
“Why
say no when it feels so good to say yes.” – Tommy Boy, the movie.
“Don’t
live in the past or the future, live in the now.” – My friend’s mom, aka Buddha
reincarnated.
What
rule(s) do you live your life by?
Likely
this rule is fuelled by my OCD, but for the last eight years, I plan out my outfit
for the following day. Every detail is decided on in advance, including
accessories and jewelry. It helps keep my closet tidy and gives me plenty of
time to map out the perfect outfit for the day ahead.
What’s
the most important tip you can give PR pros?
When
it comes down to it, a PR person’s success depends on their relationships with
media peeps. We’re all human, no need to send out mass emails or leave awkward
voicemails like you’re reading from a bad script. Just be real, talk openly and
be honest.
Things
that make me happy:

When
a press release has the name of the product, price, availability and arrives
early enough for it to be timely to feature in book for long lead media, e
vents
on the subway line that are first thing in the AM and e
vents/previews/interviews
that start on time and don’t last longer than an hour.

Things
that make me go crazy:

Massive
attachments in email, t
he
phone call follow up less than 24 hours after the initial pitch/event has been
sent or emailed, s
aying
something is exclusive when your direct competitors are being offered the exact
same thing and ev
ents/previews
in the middle of the day.

Best
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I’ve
had countless warm and fuzzy experiences with so many wonderful PR pros it’s
difficult to pick an all time best. So I’ll just give a few of them shout outs
for being my PR guardian angels: Katherine Hamilton, Lisa Kruger, Lindsey
Haywood, Caroline Duguay, Sarah Smithers, Anita Matte, Kelly Amsterdam, Isabelle
Randez and Jessica Shamess.
I
hate?
Leggings,
UGG boots and Canada Goose jackets. Especially when worn all together with a
Starbucks in hand. #fashionfail #lifefail
I
love?
Day
sequins, rice and Norwich terriers.

Reading?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
Best
place on earth?
Somewhere
I’ve yet to discoverer. My money is on Anna Dello Russo’s apartment-sized
closet.
Dinner
guest?
Hero?
I
don’t have one overarching hero in my life but there are lots of influential
women out there who inspire me — and one man. Jenna Lyons, Julianne Moore,
Grace Coddington, Cate Blanchett, Gwen Stefani and Tom Ford.


Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Vine
is the newest app added to my social media roster. So far it’s tied with
Instagram for top spot. Followed by Twitter, Pinterest and Viddy.
Pool
or ocean?
Ocean.
Public, resort and/or hotel pools are cesspits. 
Voicemail
or email?
Emails
all the way. Even if it takes me one, two or seven plus days I’ll eventually
reply to your email. Voicemails make me ragey.

Media, Darling: Gabrielle Johnson

Gabrielle Johnson graduated from London’s Central Saint Martins with a Master’s degree in fashion journalism. Her dreams of becoming a muse to fellow alum Alexander McQueen never came true, sadly, but she did sit next to Stella McCartney at a café once, and that was pretty exciting.
She began her career as the associate editor of FQ and SIR magazines, where she worked with a fantastic team and was given a surprising amount of creative freedom. She spent a year as the beauty editor of Rouge Magazine before joining the Sweetspot.ca family, where she now very happily works as the editor of SweetLife, overseeing fashion, beauty and more restaurant/boutique/spa openings than you can shake a stick at.
Gabrielle lives in Toronto with her husband, their two cats and a small army of shoes. 

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
When I was four, I wanted to be a cocktail waitress; I thought it sounded like an incredibly glamorous career choice.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Still working in fashion, but I’d eventually like to spend a little less time at my computer and a little more time playing with clothes (preferably in exotic locales).
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Show people that you’re a hard worker. Say yes to everything. Stay late once in a while. It absolutely sucks that we don’t pay our interns in this industry, but giving off an I’m-too-good-for-this attitude won’t impress anyone. We all have to start somewhere.  
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I don’t think I’ll ever stop hoarding magazines, and I never miss an issue of British Vogue, American Vogue, Lula, The Gentlewoman, Living Etc. and Elle Decoration UK.
Online, I get my news from the Globe and Mail, New York Times and The Guardian, my celebrity gossip from DListed, and my fashion and design updates and inspiration from too many websites and blogs to list here. I’m also obsessed with the Tumblrs of angsty teenage girls who like to post photos of Parisian cafés and crumbling castles and Sofia Coppola and macaroons.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
The best was probably Paul Smith, who was lovely and charming and made it seem like we were two old friends having a nice chat. I also enjoyed interviewing Andy Samberg when I had a huge crush on him about five years ago. Nothing wrong with mixing business with pleasure, right?  
Worst?
I once drove out to the middle of nowhere to interview a flaky socialite at her faux-Georgian mansion. It was 30 degrees outside and she answered the door dressed in head-to-toe riding gear (including boots and a heavy tweed jacket) despite the fact that she didn’t own a horse and had no plans to ride that day – so of course I included that detail in the opening paragraph of my story.
She was friends with my editor-in-chief at the time, and for reasons I can’t explain, this editor broke one of the most basic rules of journalism and sent her a draft of the story before it went to print. The socialite threw a giant hissy fit and demanded we take out basically everything that made the story interesting.  
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
 
Don’t get too caught up in what other people are saying about you — even the good things. Other people’s opinions are usually more about them than they are about you, so don’t give them the power to make or break your day.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Also: you can’t make friends with salad.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Please, please, please read my website before contacting me so that I don’t spend half my day responding to irrelevant pitches. Please don’t call me 10 times in one day without leaving a single message; I have call display and you’re being kinda creepy. Please update your media lists on a regular basis so that you’re pitching to the right people (it helps if they’re people who actually still work at the company you’re pitching).
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I’ve had a lot of fantastic experiences with PR people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty, but honestly, as long as you’re friendly, helpful and get back to me quickly with the info I’ve requested, I’ll think you’re pretty awesome.
I hate?
Noisy neighbours, slow walkers, endless winters, confined spaces, Gwyneth Paltrow.
I love? 
Carbs, napping, fancy tea and freshly baked scones, Saturday morning quiet time with my kitties and a stack of books, new nail polish colours, being in London, laughter that leads to snorting, my husband’s mad breakfast-making skillz, taking pictures of trees, looking at pictures of trees, packages from Miu Miu waiting to be unwrapped, moody British period dramas and very long walks.
Reading? 
I’ve been reading The Beautiful Fall since 2006 and I’m determined to finish the damn thing this month; I’ll throw a party once I finally reach the last page. I’m also working my way through The Marriage Plot and Sophie Dahl’s new cookbook From Season to Season. I don’t cook, but I enjoy reading about food and imagining myself cooking someday.
Best place on earth? 
It’s a tie between the Four Seasons Maui and the swan pond at Kensington Gardens in London.
Dinner guest? 
Tilda Swinton.
Hero? 
Daisy from the 1980 Judith Krantz classic, Princess Daisy.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I’m an online editor with Luddite tendencies. Pass.
Pool or ocean?
Either, as long as there are no sharks around (yes, I believe in swimming pool sharks).
Voicemail or email? 
Unless we’re actually real-life friends, email.